Last year, one of Urwerk’s most emblematic watches, the UR-210, bid adieu. Luckily, Urwerk fans were not in mourning for long before the next-generation UR-220 Falcon Project materialised in September 2020. Retaining hallmark features of the dearly departed UR-210, the UR-220 proved to be a sleeker and slimmer vessel thanks to its carbon case and new manual-winding movement. Although some functions were abandoned, the Urwerk UR-220 SL Asimov reincorporated the signature Oil Change gauge of earlier Urwerk models. Revisited a month later in a heavier titanium and steel all-black version, Urwerk presents its third UR-220 in full carbon stealth model with enough luminescence to light up the darkest nights: introducing the Urwerk UR-220 SL Asimov.
Urwerk is famous for its out-of-this-world approach to watchmaking. Looking at URWERK’S watches means casting aside all concepts of conventional watchmaking. From the futuristic cases to the creative ways of displaying time, designer Martin Frei and master watchmaker Felix Baumgartner were convinced there had to be another way of presenting time and, since 1995, embarked on their 21st-century watchmaking odyssey.
The defunct UR-201 was an all-time favourite at MONOCHROME, a true compendium of Urwerk’s unique approach to watchmaking. Combining the brand’s satellite hour display with a lightning-fast retrograde minutes hand, the UR-210 was also equipped with a winding efficiency gauge to calculate the energy consumed and energy generated. In 2020, Urwerk launched the UR-220. Despite initial reticence to see the iconic UR-210 model laid to rest, the UR-220 is a winner. Although certain features, like the elaborately shaped case and sapphire crystal, the revolving satellite complication with wandering hours and the retrograde minutes are similar to the former model, many things have changed – for the better.
For starters, the case of the Urwerk UR-220 SL Asimov is made from 81 layers of compressed CTP carbon compressed. The hyper-resilient carbon fibre makes the watch exceptionally lightweight and comfortable to wear. The swirling concentric patterns of the carbon also highlight the dynamic contours of the case. Another feature of the UR-220 is the newly designed power reserve indicator spread across two sub-dials placed in the upper left and right-hand corners of the dial.
To reduce the height of the case, Frei and Baumgartner decided to incorporate a new manual-winding movement and discard the winding-efficiency regulator. However, in a blast from the past, they also decided to retrieve the Oil Change indicator, albeit in a different guise.
The SL suffix refers to Super-LumiNova, and the Asimov refers to sci-fi writer Isaac Asimov whose quote from Nightfall (1941) captures the light and dark polarities of the watch. Like the first UR-220 Falcon Project, the latest interpretation comes in a stealth matte black carbon case (43.8mm diameter x 53.6mm length and 14.8mm height) with a black DLC-treated caseback with sapphire crystal. Its complex shape, hollowed-out areas of the case middle and crown at 12 o’clock are hallmark Urwerk but seem tauter and tighter in the black carbon case.
Where things get different, though, is at night. The wandering hours, indicated on three rotating cubes, are not treated with luminescent material as in the past but literally made from luminescent material, to be precise Super-LumiNova Grade X1 BL. In past editions, the cubes were created on Urwerk’s CNC machines; the rotating cubes on the UR-220 SL Asimov are moulded from Super-LumiNova. The technical expertise was developed by the Swiss company RC Tritec, a specialist in phosphorescent pigments. Instead of applying Super-LuminNova to the surface, RC Tritec has developed a method to create precise luminous 3D castings in any desired shape. With a much higher concentration of luminescence, the parts store light during daylight hours and emit a more intense and longer-lasting glow.
The Urwerk UR-220 SL Asimov still relies on wandering hours displayed on the three rotating pyramid-shaped transporters and the retrograde minutes hand that flies back to the zero position in less than 0.1 of a second. As mentioned, the power reserve is indicated on two separate gauges with three lines picked out in white lume emitting a blue glow. The right-hand gauge is the first to indicate the mainspring degree of wind. Once it has reached the maximum ‘red’ level, the left-hand indicator takes over. Splitting the power reserve indication turned out to be a complex task, requiring 83 mechanical parts.
The Oil Change gauge originally found on the UR-110 and UR-203 makes a comeback and is placed on two adjacent rollers on the caseback. To trigger the device, the wearer removes a protective pin (something you might do with a hand grenade!) and presses a pusher that displays the active running time in months. After 39 months (3 years and 3 months), the watch is ready to be serviced, and Urwerk will reset the counter to zero and replace the pin.
Thanks to the incorporation of the new manual-winding calibre UR7.20, the case height of the UR-220 is reduced. Compared to the 17.8mm height of the self-winding UR-201, the UR-220 is 14.8mm thick. Developed by Urwerk, the movement has 59 jewels, a 4Hz frequency and can store up to 48 hours of power reserve.